UT Researchers Working On Method to Improve Photovoltaic Energy Conversion

January 5, 2020

It’s been long conjectured that energy can be transferred between silicon and carbon-based organic molecules, but can it actually be done?

Yes — scientists are the University of Texas at Austin teamed with those at the University of California, Riverside say they’ve found a way, which could give new hope for increases in photovoltaic energy conversion.

The researchers say they’ve discovered an approach that pairs silicon with a carbon material that facilitates conversion of light into electricity.

Scientists have long used silicon in semiconductors for computers and in photovoltaic panels, but as Chemicals Market News points out, there have always been problems in forcing light-into-power conversion, with effective methods for transferring red photons into power, but little success using higher-powered blue photons.

While a majority of the power in blue photons is lost in heat before it can be converted to electricity, UT Austin scientists, along with their colleagues publishing in the journal Nature Chemistry, pairing silicon with a carbon material allows for the conversion of one blue photon into two red photons, which are already transmissible to electricity production.

The scientists say the new technique can also allow the process to be used in reverse, converting red photons into blue, which shows some potential to be used in quantum computing and, possibly, medical devices.